Judging the USMNT’s summer

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Gregg Berhalter is winning over his detractors. Now he needs to start winning against Mexico.

The United States men’s national team manager failed in his first bid to win a trophy, the 2019 Gold Cup, albeit against a much better Mexico team which was highly-favored to win its eighth trophy.

There were stumbles along the way — the men clearly expected to waltz past Curacao — but the Yanks largely passed tests in paving the way to the CONCACAF Nations League and 2022 World Cup qualifying.

Let’s talk about the good and the bad. We’ll try to avoid the meh.

Necessary negatives: The extended extended extended proving ground

Imagine, for a moment, you’ve moved to another country. Hey, maybe you have. Congratulations on your international jet-setting ways.

Now you’ve found one place around the corner from your apartment where you like the food. It tastes like home. The person who runs the place knows your name and always thanks you for your business.

But now your new friends are showing you other places. They are tastier places which are also healthier for you.

Still, you keep going back to the first place. It’s served you well.

It’s called Gyasi and Wil’s Family Restaurant, and Gregg Berhalter loves the lunch special.

This was one of the prime stumbling blocks of Berhalter’s early tenure as USMNT boss and one of its only true setbacks before his questionable substitutions in the Gold Cup Final against Mexico.

Berhalter overachieved in a big way during his time as Columbus Crew boss, and that was aided in no small way by midfielder Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes. One needs to look no further than Caleb Porter’s first season with a very similar Columbus roster to see just how well Berhalter did in Ohio.

But Trapp has been average at-best for the last four seasons in MLS and doesn’t have a place anywhere off the fringes of the national team pool (He’s been especially suspect this year in the United States’ top flight).

And to a lesser extent, the same is true for Zardes. Even in last year’s 20-goal season with Columbus, his stats were not wonderful (aside from the goals and yes, goals are pretty important in soccer).

Berhalter gave 17 of Trapp’s 19 caps to the midfielder, but only used him twice in the Gold Cup run (once off the bench). Trapp captained the side in his first eight caps under Berhalter, and again in June’s friendly slaughter at the hands of Salomon Rondon and Venezuela.

He’s just okay, not a mainstay, and it took Berhalter some time to realize that Michael Bradley was the far superior option despite being nowhere near his peak powers and a sudden turnover machine.

Zardes is not the answer at striker, although he put in a solid sub shift on Sunday, and Berhalter made sure he asked that question continually over the past half-year. He’s capable of the sublime and there’s currently a place for him in a 23-man roster, but that’s it. He has 10 goals and eight assists in 50 career caps, and here are the ones that come outside of CONCACAF:

Bolivia: 2 goals
Paraguay: 1 assist
Ecuador: 2 goals
Chile: 1 assist
Netherlands: 1 goal

Anyway, the point is not to dog Trapp and Zardes. They are pool players, but are unlikely to be regular difference makers for the USMNT. Berhalter, as is his right, gave them a loyal chance to stake a claim to their preferred places. Neither has been exceptional despite a wealth of experience in his system. The game’s not over, but it seems their role is as mid-level boss.

Pulisic is a wonder, and we wonder what’s next (Alternatively titled: Don’t hurt him, Lamps)

Christian Pulisic is a terrific player with world class potential. He is a worker, a playmaker, a finisher, and a burgeoning leader.

We need not spent too much detailing his exploits in the tournament, which earned him a place in the Best XI.

But the key part of this is that the kid continues to show up bigger when it matters.

Not 21 until September, Pulisic’s first Gold Cup saw him post three goals and three assists in five matches. Prior to this summer, he has seven goals and seven assists in World Cup qualifiers.

Even including his failure to meet the score sheet in the Copa America Centenario, Pulisic has 10 goals and 10 assists in 21 tournament matches for the USMNT. Compare that to three goals in nine friendlies. Guy’s a gamer.

Now he goes to Chelsea, a new club with a new manager who did not purchase him (but will surely be no stranger to his exploits). Frank Lampard will need Pulisic to show him something, but the price tag means the American will get every chance to do so.

That said, this isn’t a plea for “Lamps” to play Pulisic, rather develop him. The player is a dynamite winger, but Lampard was one of the most complete attacking midfielders of his generation. We’d argue the hiring is a good one. Let’s hope to be proven correct.

(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Chances taken, squandered, and everything in between

Here is a partial list of players left off the USMNT roster: John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, Tyler Adams, Timothy Weah, Josh Sargent, Antonee Robinson, Paxton Pomykal, Duane Holmes, Sebastian Lletget, Russell Canouse, Andrija Novakovich, and Bobby Wood.

Some went uncalled by Gregg Berhalter, yeah, but all remain prospects to get regular spots on the team.

Of the men who were called into the squad, there are several who entered the tournament as undoubted long-term mainstays: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Matt Miazga, and Zack Steffen among them. Others had a good handle on a place in the squad moving forward. While not perfect, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore ensured that they won’t be headed to the retirement unless they make that choice.

It’s difficult to get a read on Berhalter, and whether he’s dismissed a player or simply rotating according to some unnamed plan.

He benched Tyler Boyd with the U.S. in dire needed of attacking creativity against Mexico. Center backs Omar Gonzalez and Walker Zimmerman were pretty decent in the tournament, so maybe he had just seen enough?

Reggie Cannon seized his opportunity to lay claim to a fullback’s place in the pool, and Boyd looked good to most of us (again, how does Berhalter really feel?). Jordan Morris had his moments.

Paul Arriola seems to have made the right impression on his coach, while Berhalter has a very high opinion of Cristian Roldan (His engine is elite, but production remains absent).

All told, the coach is doing a decent job

I’ve written a number of times that the U.S. Soccer Federation did Gregg Berhalter no favors with the mysterious hiring process, because he’s a worthy hiring.

The loss against Mexico stings but it doesn’t scar, maybe because Berhalter’s Yanks pummeled Trinidad and Tobago for a measure of revenge and staked fair claims of superiority over Panama and Jamaica.

His system is asking a lot out of this player pool, but once we see the full-throated team with John Brooks leading out of the back with his under-appreciated distribution and Tyler Adams spying Pulisic, Weah, and other electric attackers, the Yanks are going to roar through CONCACAF.

Injuries could cost them, yeah, and the youth we’ve seen shine with the U-20s and (hopefully) the U-23s heading into the Olympics need to be nurtured into contributors.

As of right now, you’d bet on the USMNT to sit in the top three spots for the Hex and it’s reasonable to expect Berhalter to develop the young players into a squad that can rival Mexico’s by the Nations League finals or the Hex.

That’s when Berhalter will get his next serious chance to rival Tata Martino. And this time, he won’t have to plug in maybes and what ifs.

Hopefully. And that adverb is the one that applies to almost every USMNT question.

Bonus item: USWNT

After 1300 words on the men, here are a dozen or so on the women that matter just as much: Pay them equally. They’re the best we’ve got, and it’s the right thing to do anyway.

Kane’s history-maker delivers another Tottenham win vs Man City

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium remains a house of horrors for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City following Spurs 1-0 win on Sunday, as Harry Kane made Premier League and Tottenham history in North London.

It’s Spurs’ fifth-straight win over City at home, a stunning run for any team against three-peat chasing visitors. Spurs also finished the game with 10 men after Cristian Romero collected a late, second yellow card, but City still could not find a way home.

Kane’s 267th Tottenham and 200th career goal came off a City error in the 15th minute and the visitors never found an equalizer, shut out for the first time since an Oct. 16 loss at Liverpool.

WATCH TOTTENHAM vs MANCHESTER CITY FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK

Arsenal (50 points) were handed just their second defeat of the season on Saturday, beaten 1-0 away to Everton as Sean Dyche made his debut as Toffees manager, and it was North London rival Tottenham that acted on it.

City remains five points behind Arsenal, who holds a match-in-hand, while Spurs climb onto 39 points. That’s one behind Newcastle and three back of third-place Man United, though Spurs have played more games than anyone else in the Premier League other than Fulham.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


Harry Kane reaction to win, record-setting goal

What he said to NBC after the game. “It’s hard to put into words, a magical moment and especially do to it in a win as well. Being here at home in front of the fans. There’s been so much talk about it and I just wanted to get it done as soon as possible. To do it in a big game against one of the biggest teams in the world…it’s a great feeling. When I started playing regularly 8, 9 years ago, it wasn’t even in my mind to score 200 Premier League goals. When Tim Sherwood gave me my first start, I was so desperate to make my mark. A lot of hard work, with Mauricio and all the coaches. Jimmy Greaves is a complete hero, one of the best to play the game. To be in that company is a special feeling. I’m sure his family is watching and proud as well.”

What he said to crowd after the game: “Thanks for supporting me my whole career. Thank you to my wife, my kids, family and friends. And to my teammates. It’s super. Let’s keep the support going and see where it takes us.”


Pep Guardiola reaction

“We started really well. As usual against Tottenham, home or away, we make a mistake and they punish us. They are a team at 1-0 down who are not easy. We had chances with Riyad, but even with our people up front it’s not easy, and we dropped three points.”

Why he didn’t start Kevin De Bruyne for tactical reasons, but subbed him anyway: “We brought him in for the last pass. In the second half it was moree difficult. He can make one of these actions.”


Stars of the Show

Harry Kane: What else can you say about him?

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: The sort of guy who makes the middle of the park a danger zone, and today that meant an assist.

Manuel Akanji: One of the precious few City players who continues to consistently show hunger.

Ivan Perisic: Up and down the left side, should’ve had an assist to Kane late.

Jack Grealish: A constant menace who won fouls out of nothing. You might not like that, but it worked a treat.

Tottenham vs Manchester City
fotmob.com

What’s next?

Man City is home to Aston Villa on Sunday, Feb. 12, a day after Tottenham heads to Leicester City.


Harry Kane goal video: Tottenham, England star makes big history


Tottenham vs Manchester City live updates, as they happened

Tottenham vs Man City final score: 1-0 (Kane, 15′)

12:57pm ET: Nearly for both sides! Julian Alvarez tears into a shot that just misses the frame at one end, and Kane should’ve had a corner for a denied chance at the other end but it was ruled he just missed the frame.

12:51pm ET: A short City corner nearly makes it 1-1, but Eric Dier’s thigh gets a piece of the ball that looked marked for upper 90. It’s another corner, and there’s a handball shout against Cristian Romero that goes unheeded. Now Spurs race back the other way and Ivan Perisic comes close to finding Kane with a dragged shot-cross through the six. It’s getting fun!

12:43pm ET: So nearly 2-0, but Ben Davies’ header off a corner kick is just off the mark.

Wait, what’s that? Kevin De Bruyne’s music? A game plan crying out for him is now getting its pleas heard as cameras catch the Belgian getting dolled up for his introduction.

12:37pm ET: Back in play, albeit slowly, and the second half’s first real moment comes when Grealish wins a foul on the left off of Emerson Royal. The lofted in free kick is a bit wayward and seems to carry too much, and the passage ends with a City goal kick. Still 1-0 Spurs.

12:20pm ET: HALFTIME STATS! It’s still 1-0 to Spurs on Kane’s record-making goal. Here’s how the match looks, via FotMob:

Tottenham vs Manchester City live
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12:17pm ET: Crossbar smashed! Riyad Mahrez nearly has it 1-1 at the break. We’re almost done with two minutes stoppage time.

12:13pm ET: Close! Grealish has been a live wire and whips in a shot that cannot find the frame. City cannot find Erling Haaland and the xG battle is even at 0.37 even if City has 68 percent of the ball and a 6-2 edge in shots. Still 1-0 Spurs, who have a corner and cannot get through City because Kane and Eric Dier have a few chances to snap a loose ball home.

12:05pm ET: It’s slowed down a bit, so let’s take a moment to shout out reaction from the other two Premier League players who can say they’ve scored 200 goals in the competition.

Here’s more on Harry Kane’s Tottenham record and new berth in Premier League history.

11:52am ET: YELLOW CARD, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR. Man City right back at it, but Spurs take the ball back and Kane wins a free kick just inside the circle. City takes the ball back and Jack Grealish and Rico Lewis are bringing electricity to the center of the park. Lewis is chopped down by Rodrigo Betancur, who sees a yellow card for his petulance.

11:47am ET: GOOOOOAAAAALLLL! TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR! And it’s history for Harry Kane! It had still been a lot of City, but a bad giveaway deep in its own end allows Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to lay the ball off for Kane inside the 18. From this angle and range, the new all-time Tottenham Hotspur goal scorer is not going to miss and Spurs lead at home with his 267th goal in the shirt. It’s also his 200th Premier League goal. What a moment! Tottenham 1-0 Man City, 15′.

11:36am ET: It’s been a good start for Man City, with a couple of corner kicks. City, however, looks like it will be dealing with an 18 that resembles cartons of milk on the shelf at the grocery store. City currently opening the door to find a compact Spurs unit all over the pitch, with several shots blocked inside the 18.

11:15am ET: Good morning! Nick Mendola here with you ahead of a game Antonio Conte would love to get and Pep Guardiola will be planning to capture. Some odd comments from Guardiola before the game about Kevin De Bruyne being out of the Starting XI for tactical reasons, while Phil Foden misses out through injury/illness. Exciting under-the-radar Maximo Perrone has a spot in the 18, too, and some are suspecting him as a long-term Rodri clone. As for Spurs, Conte does get Richarlison on the bench, which also holds room for new signings Pedro Porro and Arnaut Danjuma. Depth options and two tactical wizards on the touch line should make this a complete game… unless Erling Haaland makes it a fait accompli before it has a chance to become a chess match. (NM)


Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Lucas Moura (calf)

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: John Stones (thigh), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE), Phil Foden (foot)


How to watch Tottenham vs Manchester City live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11:30 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

When these sides met just two weeks ago, Tottenham found themselves 2-0 up at halftime and threatening to cause the Man City upset yet again, effectively handing rivals Arsenal a three-point boost in the title race. Then the second half kicked off, and the two-time defending champions poured in four games, including three in the first 18 minutes. Another fantastic half wasted by Tottenham, though it was typically a poor start followed by a frantic finish of their own. Harry Kane will pass Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ all-time top scorer when he scores his next goal, taking his total in all competitions to 267. If Kane scores that goal in a Premier League fixture, the record goal will also be his 200th in the league.

Erling Haaland (25 goals) is the only player with more PL goals than Kane (16) this season, and though his numbers are certainly eye-popping, his arrival has clearly unsettled Pep Guardiola’s tactical system to some degree. A season ago, Manchester City conceded just 26 goals in 38 games (0.68 per game). This season, 20 goals in 20 games, up nearly a half-goal per game.

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Premier League top scorers: Who is leading 2022 Golden Boot race?

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For those tempted to write off Erling Haaland’s historically-hot start to life as a Premier League striker, it’s safe to say your temptation is now officially unhealthy.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ] 

There is something somewhat dull about knowing the identity of the 2022 Golden Boot winner, the lone curiosity being the final number of his final tally, we get it, but most of what Haaland is doing this season is simply marvelous and to be admired without much fear.

Haaland’s Premier League-leading 25 goals have him eight goals clear of the next closest challenger: Tottenham’s Harry Kane.

The Norwegian star piled up 20 goals in a single Premier League season faster than any player in history… by seven games (Kevin Phillips of Sunderland did it in 21). Now he’s within five goals of equalling Kevin Phillips’ record for most goals in a debut Premier League season.

And the later this season goes with him projected so far over the current record, the less chucking is accompanied by marking out the pace (especially considering Haaland was not beaten up by the World Cup, as Norway was not in the tournament). And even though Haaland is currently overperforming his expected goals total, it’s clear that projecting him for the Premier League record is rather realistic.

How many records can Haaland break?

Premier League Golden Boot
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Haaland may not be likely to hit 50 goals given the schedule congestion to come for Man City, but the Premier League record is very well under assault and that figure isn’t entirely absurd. He’s played in 20 of Man City’s 21 games, scoring 25 goals.

Mohamed Salah holds the 38-game season record with his 32 goals scored for Liverpool during the 2017-18 season, while Newcastle’s Andy Cole and Blackburn’s Alan Shearer bagged 34 during 42-game seasons in the 20th century’s final decade.

Haaland also could topple the record for goal involvements (goals plus assists) in a single season, including beating the 42-game record. Alan Shearer put up 47 over 42, while Thierry Henry holds the 38-game record with 44.

Other records that Haaland could legitimately tie or topple:

  • 30 goals in a first Premier League season (Kevin Phillips, Sunderland, 1999-2000)
  • Goals in 24 different Premier League matches (Salah, Liverpool, 2017-18)
  • Most goals in a Premier League match (Five tied with five)
  • 11-straight Premier League games with a goal (Jamie Vardy, Leicester, 2014-15)

Read on to see the latest Premier League goal totals for the 2022-23 season, as Haaland looks to claim a Golden Boot in his first PL season.

Premier League 2022-23 Golden Boot race

    1. Erling Haaland, Man City — 25
    2. Harry Kane, Tottenham — 17
    3. Ivan Toney, Brentford — 13
    4. Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham — 11
    5. Rodrigo, Leeds United — 10
    6. Marcus Rashford, Manchester United — 10
    7. Miguel Almiron, Newcastle — 9
    8. Martin Odegaard, Arsenal — 8
    9. James Maddison, Leicester City — 8
    10. Roberto Firmino, Liverpool — 7
    11. Phil Foden, Man City — 7
    12. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool — 7
    13. Leandro Trossard — Brighton/Arsenal — 7
    14. Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal — 7
    15. Harvey Barnes, Leicester City — 7
    16. Bukayo Saka, Arsenal — 7
    17. Callum Wilson, Newcastle — 7
    18. Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace — 6
    19. Pascal Gross, Brighton — 6
    20. Danny Ings, Aston Villa/West Ham — 6
    21. Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal — 5
    22. Daniel Podence, Wolves — 5
    23. Darwin Nunez, Liverpool — 5
    24. Alexis Mac Allister, Brighton — 5
    25. James Ward-Prowse, Southampton — 5
    26. Kai Havertz, Chelsea — 5
    27. Kaoru Mitoma, Brighton — 5
    28. Ollie Watkins, Aston Villa — 5
    29. Brennan Johnson, Nottingham Forest — 5
    30. Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United — 5
    31. Bryan Mbeumo, Brentford — 5
    32. Ruben Neves, Wolves — 5

Premier League assist leaders: Who will win Playmaker of the Season?

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Kevin De Bruyne’s gaudy assist numbers give rise to any number of considerations, and we have to wonder if the Manchester City star has ever wondered if the Premier League record would be his in a world in which Jose Mourinho found better use for him at Chelsea.

De Bruyne’s 11 assists this Premier League season are four more than his nearest competitors — Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and Man Utd’s Christian Eriksen — and give him 97 for his career. That’s fifth all-time, two more than Dennis Bergkamp and 65 (?!) behind record holder Ryan Giggs.

[ MORE: Premier League Golden Boot race ]

The Belgian star, 31, arrived at Chelsea from Werder Bremen at the age of 22 and managed only 425 in a half-season before being offloaded to Wolfsburg. Back in the Bundesliga, De Bruyne got six assists the rest of the way before setting up 21 goals the next season to set up a move to Man City.

He’s since won the nascent Premier League Playmaker of the Season Award twice, including a 20-assist 2019-20 season, and he’s on pace to make it three of six. Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah, and Eden Hazard have also won the award, which is only five years old.

De Bruyne also led the Premier League in assists in 2016-17, the year before the league but a name on the honor.

His stats hint that there’s more to come, as ‘KDB’ is creating a gaudy 3.71 chances per 90 minutes. After a season in which he scored 15 times with eight assists, De Bruyne is back taunting those who’d dare chase him in terms of setting up goals (Some guy named Erling Haaland is helping…).

Take a look at De Bruyne’s shining stats, and read on to see who’s chasing him in a list of the Premier League assist leaders for the 2022-23 season.

Premier League assist leaders
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Premier League 2022-23 assist leaders

  1. Kevin De Bruyne, Man City — 11
  2. Bukayo Saka, Arsenal — 7
  3. Christian Eriksen, Manchester United — 7
  4. Bernardo Silva, Man City — 5
  5. Dejan Kulusevski, Tottenham Hotspur — 5
  6. Alex Iwobi, Everton — 5
  7. Andy Robertson, Liverpool — 5
  8. Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal — 5
  9. Martin Odegaard, Arsenal — 5
  10. Ivan Perisic, Tottenham Hotspur — 5
  11. Andreas Pereira, Fulham — 5
  12. Granit Xhaka, Arsenal — 5
  13. Jamie Vardy, Leicester City — 4
  14. James Maddison, Leicester City — 4
  15. Marcus Tavernier, Bournemouth — 4
  16. Kieran Trippier, Newcastle — 4
  17. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool — 4
  18. Michael Olise, Crystal Palace — 4
  19. Kenny Tete, Fulham — 4
  20. Ollie Watkins, Aston Villa — 4
  21. Mathias Jensen, Brentford — 4
  22. Jack Harrison, Leeds — 4
  23. Morgan Gibbs-White, Nottingham Forest — 4
  24. Solly March, Brighton and Hove Albion — 4
  25. Rodri, Manchester City — 4
  26. Douglas Luiz, Aston Villa — 4
  27. Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United — 4

Premier League table, 2022-23 season

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If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

After the break for the 2022 World Cup, the Premier League is back with a bang and the start to 2023 has delivered plenty of fun.


Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest though Newcastle is not going away and Manchester United has surged into contention.

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Uneven Tottenham are hanging in the top four battle, while Liverpool is struggling to stay in the Champions League scrap. Chelsea has some work to do while surprising Fulham, Brentford and Brighton are hanging around on the periphery with fine campaigns.


Who are the candidates for relegation?

Everton, Bournemouth, and Southampton currently occupy the relegation places.

But Leicester, West Ham, Wolves, and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom three after a topsy-turvy season so far.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.


Premier League table – February 5

Premier League schedule
NBC’s Premier League scoreboard page


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